Replacement scheme won’t come into force until 2025, three years after it was supposed to be up and running

The introduction of a post-Brexit product marking system for the UK has been pushed back again meaning sites will be free to carry on using products with the existing CE mark stamp on them.

The replacement UKCA system had been due to come into force at the start of January, having already been postponed for 12 months with the government telling Building last month it would not be delayed again.

It will eventually require all new or updated construction products to be tested in UK facilities in order to be legally sold on the UK market and will replace the current CE mark, introduced in 1985.

ce mark

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The CE mark has been in use in the UK since 1985

But many have questioned what benefits the UK is getting out of the switch and whether the UK had enough testing capacity for the new mark.

One contracting boss told Building last month the deadline would need to go out again: “There is not enough testing capacity here. I struggle to find anyone who thinks this is a great idea. Overseas manufacturers are going to have to make the same product differently because of our plan to have separate British standards. It will just cost more. We’re lobbying to keep it as it is.”

Another told Building: “Let’s not change things that don’t need changing.”

In September, Peter Caplehorn, chief executive of the Construction Products Association, told Building that testing capacity for building products such as glass, sealants and radiators was limited or non-existent.

“We haven’t addressed the fundamental problem, the structural problem, which is the capacity of the testing and certification sector,” he said. “We still have a problem with several products having nowhere to test in the UK.”

He added: “We’re exactly in the same place as we were when we started this conversation two and half years ago.”

Today, business secretary Grant Shapps bowed to the inevitable and said the government would continue to recognise the CE mark until 31 December 2024.

He said government did not want to “burden” businesses at a time of “difficult economic conditions” with Shapps blaming post-pandemic supply shifts and the war in Ukraine for the decision.

While the government relaxed requirements in summer – allowing existing CE-certified products to switch over to UKCA – Caplehorn warned the industry would still see a “gradual attrition” across the product sector as materials became unavailable.

“We understand why the government would like to transition to UKCA and we’re quite happy to support that but we need a smooth transition, and at the moment it’s creating a huge amount of uncertainty, cost and disruption,” he said six weeks ago.

The Construction Leadership Council warned earlier this year that a shortage of testing capacity for products including glass and radiators could mean delays to 150,000 new homes due to lack of material availability.

Shapps said the government remained “determined to remove barriers to businesses” and said the delay would give them “the breathing space and flexibility they need at this crucial time”.

“To support manufacturers, the government is also reviewing the wider product safety framework, ensuring we minimise the burdens on business while keeping our system up to date with new innovative methods such as e-labelling,” he added.